California governor declares state of emergency as fire threatens

The Ponderosa fire in northern California is spreading, 3,000 people have been evacuated and 24,000 acres have burned.

AP File Photo
A plume of smoke from the Chips Fire rises above the Plumas National Forest in Northern California, about 70 miles north of Sacramento, Calif., on Saturday. On Wednesday the governor of California declared a state of emergency due to the fire.

California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in three Northern California counties on Wednesday after officials said wildfires in the region had destroyed at least 50 buildings and were threatening hundreds more.

Some 3,000 people have been evacuated as the so-called Ponderosa fire burned through more than 24,000 acres (9,700 hectares) of steep, rugged terrain in the rural counties of Tehama and Shasta, about 125 miles (200 km) north of state capital Sacramento.

The blaze is 50-percent contained, fire officials said.

Brown also declared a state of emergency in nearby Plumas County, where a fire has burned through 47,000 acres (19,000 hectares).

Declaring a state of emergency frees up funds to help battle the fires.

Firefighters on Wednesday were expected to start inspecting the damage from the Ponderosa fire, which they surveyed by air on Tuesday.

Efforts to prevent the fire from overrunning the rural towns of Manton and Shingletown have succeeded so far despite high winds and heat, fire officials said.

Reporting by Mary Slosson; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Xavier Briand

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